Dark and brooding, Naomi Iizuka’s play “Polaroid Stories,” exposes a subculture that is easily forgotten. The play is told in anecdotes, allowing the audience a brief glimpse into the lives of each character. Iizuka has managed to modernize ancient Greek mythology and has mingled the classics with current relevance.
Although, at times, messy and confusing, Iizuka’s play is thoughtful. Patterning “Polaroid Stories” after Roman poet Ovid’s epic poem “Metamorphoses,” she has given the stage characters attributes of the gods of lore, all while upholding its contemporary setting.
The objective here is to make the invisible visible. The play tells the tale of homeless, runaway youths, who are full of teenage angst. They lose touch with reality and choose instead to suppress their misery with fleeting highs. Even with little possessions (but a whole lot of drugs), the teenagers have their stories that keep them human – stories they long to tell, even if they have tried to forget them. Perhaps Iizuka’s sometimes “messy and confusing” plot was her intention, in an effort to show the chaos of a young, lost demographic.
The play opens with all cast members on stage portraying their vices. The backdrop is adorned with graffiti and newspaper clippings. Skinhead Boy (Patrick Delaney) and girlfriend, Skinhead Girl (Sami Binder), are huffing spraypaint. The parallel characters from mythology stay true to their ancient personalities. Philomel (Corrinne Greene) sings a song of sorrow (“The Crossing” by Shishonnah) as Narcissus (Girshel Topuria) takes swigs from a bottle and grins vainly as he flips his tresses. Eurydice (Sabrina Aziz) is one of the more obvious parallels. Throughout the play, just like in “Metamorphoses,” she is the maiden of a tragic love story. Her character has died inside, gone to hell and as close as love gets to rescuing her, she remains a damsel in distress void of any emotion and drunk from the waters of the river of forgetfulness.
Brooklyn College’s production of “Polaroid Stories” remains a must-see even for those not trained in the classics. The storytelling executed by the cast alone is reason enough to see it. Although the play is at times horrific and complicated, it is never boring and the actors execute the material with charisma that keeps the audience on edge.
Final performance for “Polaroid Stories” will be the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 22. Visit http://depthome.brooklyn.cuny.edu/theater/ for more information.